Rio Grande Scenic train to private music site.
This seems to be my summer for country rock and related concerts — first Ricky Skaggs and Gordon Lightfoot in Boulder’s historic Chautauqua Auditorium, and yesterday afternoon in the lovely mountain setting on La Veta Pass, where Mark Chestnutt headlined. The rustic venue is accessible only by Rio Grande Scenic Railroad. Even the musicians travel by train — no truck, no tour bus in sight.
Vintage cars leave Alamosa’s historic downtown depot and travel through the pancake-flat San Luis Valley past farms, potato warehouses and historic Fort Garland en route to the soaring Sangre de Cristo Mountains. There, at 9,400 feet, the railroad built the Fir Summit Amphitheater, a wind- and solar-powered site in the cusp of a mountain meadow. The audience sits on benches or on folding chairs (their own or rented). Barbecue, beer and soft drinks are for sale. And yes, so are T-shirts, ball caps and artists’ CDs.
Yesterday Colorado’s mellow Chuck Pyle opened for Texan Matt Chestnutt’s honky-tonk-flavored performance. The sky was blue, the clouds fluffy and non-threatening. A second performance is scheduled today — part of the Mountain Rails Live 13-concert series over the summer.
The vintage standard-gauge cars come in four classes of service with food and beverage services on board, and the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad also runs a Sunset Dinner Train (five courses) in the valley to Antonito as well as an Excursion Train over the pass to the hamlet of La Veta. Coming up from September 16 to October 10 there are also trains for leaf-peepers and an Oktoberfest trip on October 3. FoMoInfo: 877-726-7245.